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Canada\’s Former Top Cyclist Clara Hughes – 2006 Winter Olympic Hopeful

September 30, 2005 – As part of the lead-up to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee is profiling 20 Olympic hopefuls, in as many weeks, who have the potential to achieve success in Torino, Italy. The third Olympic hopeful to be profiled is long track speed skater Clara Hughes. Below you’ll find detailed information on Hughes including her <#1>Biography and 2006 Olympic Winter Games Outlook, <#2>Potential Olympic Teammates and <#3>Previous Olympic Summer and Olympic Winter Games Results. Also included is a <#4>2006 Olympic Winter Games Preview for Women’s Long Track Speed Skating.

<http://www.olympic.ca/FR/hopefuls/c_hughes.html>Pour la version française, cliquez ici

Clara Hughes

Sport:
<http://www.speedskating.ca>Long Track Speed Skating

Event:
3,000 metres, 5,000 metres and Team Pursuit (2,400 metres)

Birthdate: September 27, 1972
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Man.
Hometown: Winnipeg, Man.
Residence: Glen Sutton, Que.
Trains In: Calgary, Alta.
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 159 lbs.
Coaches: Xiuli Wang
Club: Sherbrooke Speed Skating Club

2006 Olympic Qualification Standards
Canada will be eligible to send a total of 10 female athletes to compete in long track speed skating at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Canada has a quota of four positions each in the 500 metres, 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres along with a quota of three positions for the 3,000 metres and 5,000 metres. The number of total participants for the 3,000 metres and 5,000 metres will be based on world rankings and best times with only the top 28 skaters qualifying.

For the Team Pursuit (2,400 metres) race, five Canadian athletes will be selected to compete. All skaters in the Team Pursuit must meet the International Skating Union’s (ISU) time standard for the distance. Skaters will be selected based on this criteria and the number of available positions remaining. The Canadian women’s team may also pre-qualify based on their ranking in the 2005-06 fall World Cup season.

The Olympic Trials for the Canadian Long Track Speed Skating Team will take place from December 28, 2005 to January 2, 2006 in Calgary, Alberta. Canadians Clara Hughes, Kristina Groves, Cindy Klassen and Jeremy Wotherspoon have already been pre-selected by Speed Skating Canada for the Olympic Team based on their cumulative results from the 2004-05 World Cup season and 2005 World All Round and World Single Distances Championships. To officially qualify for the 2006 Olympic Team, the foursome will have to meet the ISU 2005-06 fall World Cup standards. For the remaining Olympic Team positions, athletes will have to qualify at the Canadian Olympic Trials in order to earn a berth.

Athletes must meet the Speed Skating Canada time standard once from October 27, 2004 to December 27, 2005 in order to attend the selection trials, and twice in order to be nominated to the team.

Skaters may be pre-selected to the Olympic Trials if they finish in the top five at the 2005 World Single Distances Championship or are in the top five in the 2005-06 fall World Cup rankings.

Additional skaters will be selected at the Olympic Trials by ranking through comparing their time as a percentage of the benchmark time.

I. Biography & 2006 Olympic Winter Games Outlook: [ <#top>TOP ]

– Additional Information –

<http://www.olympic.ca/EN/hopefuls/c_hughes1.html>Hughes’ Notable International Results

<http://www.olympic.ca/EN/hopefuls/c_hughes2.html>Hughes’ 2005-06 International Competition Schedule

<http://www.olympic.ca/EN/hopefuls/c_hughes3a.html>All-time Olympic Women’s Long Track Speed Skating Results – 3,000 and 5,000 metres

<http://www.olympic.ca/EN/hopefuls/c_hughes3b.html>All-time Canadian Olympic Long Track Speed Skating Medal Winners

<http://www.olympic.ca/EN/hopefuls/c_hughes3c.html>All-time Olympic Long Track Speed Skating Medal Winners By Country

<http://www.olympic.ca/EN/hopefuls/index.html>Previous

Canadian Olympic Hopeful Profiles
One of Canada’s most famous and decorated Olympians of all-time, Clara Hughes is the only Canadian, and just the fourth athlete in Olympic history, to win medals at both the Olympic and the Winter Olympic Games.

A three-time Olympic bronze medallist, Hughes’ podium success began at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta when she pedaled her way to two third place finishes in the cycling time trial and road race respectively. Six years later, Hughes captured her first medal on the Olympic Winter stage when she raced to a third place result in the 5,000-metre long track speed skating event in Salt Lake City.

Hughes retired from amateur cycling in August 2003 and for the past two years has focused her attention solely on returning to the podium in long track speed skating at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin.

Outside of the 5,000-metre event, Hughes also competes in the 3,000-metre and Team Pursuit (2,400 metres) disciplines. The latter is a new Olympic event which will debut in 2006.

In 2004-05, Hughes once again turned in an exceptional amateur campaign as the 33-year-old (Hughes birthday was on Sept. 27) recorded several notable finishes on the World Championship stage including a bronze medal in 5,000 metres at the 2005 World Single Distances Championship and another third place result in the same event at the 2005 World All Round Championship.

She was also part of a squad comprised of Kristina Groves and Cindy Klassen which took home the silver medal in the Team Pursuit race at the previous World Single Distances Championship. During the 2004-05 season, the trio combined to set a world record of 3:03.07 in the event at a World Cup competition in Berlin, Germany.

Hughes’ road to speed skating excellence began 17 years ago in the family room at her parents’ home in Winnipeg as the then 16-year-old elected to take up the sport with the goal of competing at the Olympic Winter Games after watching the legendary Gaétan Boucher skate at the 1988 Games in Calgary.

One year later, Hughes switched to cycling where she carved out a legendary career which, in addition to her two Olympic medals, includes winning five Pan American Games medals, twice reaching the podium at the Commonwealth Games, being a four-time women’s Tour de France competitor and finishing her career as an 18-time National Champion.

After representing Canada in cycling as a 28-year-old in the 2000 Olympic Games, Hughes elected to make a return to speed skating. Despite being out of the sport for some time, Hughes quickly became one of Canada’s top long track speed skaters by making the national team after just seven weeks of training.
Since her return to long track speed skating, the six-year amateur has had the knack for coming up big on the sport’s grandest stage. Among Hughes’ notable achievements, she has captured a silver medal in 5,000 metres at the 2003 World Single Distances Championship, a gold in the 5,000 metres and a bronze in the 3,000 metres at the 2003 World All Around Championship, a bronze in the 5,000 metres at the 2004 World All Round Championship and a gold in the 5,000 metres at the 2004 World Single Distances Championship.

II. Potential Olympic Teammates: [ <#top>TOP ]
The following are some of the potential Olympic participants from the 2005-06 Long Track Speed Skating Women’s National Team.

Kristina Groves (Ottawa, Ont.): This past season, Groves earned her first career individual World Cup medal after taking home the gold in a 3,000-metre event in Hamar, Norway. The 28-year-old then capped off her season with the biggest podium finish of her career by capturing a bronze medal in the same event at the 2005 World Single Distances Championship.
A member of the 2002 Olympic Team, Groves competed in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 metres at the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City finishing 20th, eighth and 10th respectively.

Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, Man.): One of the top mid-to-long distance speed skaters competing on the international stage today, Klassen, 26, raced to a bronze medal in the 3,000-metres event at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Her first Olympic competition also saw her come away with two fourth-place results in the 1,500 and 5,000 metres as well as a 13th placing in the 1,000 metres in Salt Lake City.

Entering her seventh amateur season, Klassen dominated the 2004-05 World Cup circuit in the 1,500 metres discipline, winning three races and finishing first overall in the final standings. At the recent 2005 World Single Distances Championship, Klassen captured double gold in the 1,500 and 3,000 metres. In 2004, she became the first Canadian in 27 years to win the Overall Title at the All Round World Speed Skating Championships.

Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, Man.): One of the up and comers on the Long Track Speed Skating Women’s National Team, Rempel skated to her first ever World Cup podium finish this past December after capturing a silver medal in the 1,000-metre event in Harbin, China. One month later, she would go on to record another second place finish at a World Cup event in Calgary.

On the 2005 World Championship stage, the 20-year-old placed 12th in the 1,000 metres and 13th in the 500 metres at the World Single Distances Championship. Prior to competing on the elite circuit, Rempel also captured a bronze medal at the 2004 World Junior Championship.

III. Previous Olympic Summer and Olympic Winter Games Results – Clara Hughes: [ <#top>TOP ]

Competition, Event, Location, Result
2002 Olympic Winter Games Salt Lake City, USA
– 5,000 metres 3rd
– 3,000 metres 10th

2000 Olympic Games, Syndey, Australia
– Time Trial 6th
– Road Race 43rd

1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, USA
– Time Trial 3rd
– Road Race 3rd

IV. 2006 Olympic Winter Games Preview – Women’s Long Track Speed Skating: [ <#top>TOP ]

3,000 metres
Previous Olympic Results (2002)
Previous All Round World Championship Results (2005)
Previous Single Distances World Championship Results (2005)
Gold: Claudia Pechstein, Germany
Gold: Anni Friesinger, Germany
Gold: Cindy Klassen, Canada
Silver: Renate Groenewold, Netherlands
Silver: Claudia Pechstein, Germany
Silver: Claudia Pechstein, Germany
Bronze: Cindy Klassen, Canada
Bronze: Danielle Anschütz, Germany
Bronze: Kristina Groves, Canada

5,000 metres
Previous Olympic Results (2002)
Previous All Round World Championship Results (2005)
Previous Single Distances World Championship Results (2005)
Gold: Claudia Pechstein, Germany
Gold: Anni Friesinger, Germany
Gold: Anni Friesinger, Germany
Silver: Gretha Smit, Netherlands
Silver: Claudia Pechstein, Germany
Silver: Claudia Pechstein, Germany
Bronze: Clara Hughes, Canada
Bronze:Clara Hughes, Canada
Bronze:Clara Hughes, Canada

Team Pursuit (2,400 metres)
Previous Olympic Results (2002)
Previous All Round World Championship Results (2005)
Previous Single Distances World Championship Results (2005)
No previous Olympic results

Race not contested

Gold: Germany
Silver: Canada
Bronze: Japan

Traditionally, the women’s 3,000 and 5,000 metres Olympic long track speed skating events have been dominated by the nations of Germany and East Germany.

Since the event was introduced on the Olympic program in 1960 the European countries have won a combined 14 Olympic medals (out of a possible 36) in the women’s 3,000 metres. In the past six Olympic Winter Games, the gold medal in the 3,000 metres has gone to an athlete from Germany or East Germany on four occasions.

Similarly, Germany and East Germany have extended their Olympic winning ways into the 5,000 metres after the discipline was added during the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. Entering Turin, Germany has won the gold medal in four of the five Olympic Winter Games in which it has been contested, including the last four consecutively. Overall, the nations of Germany and East Germany have combined for 10 Olympic medals (out of a possible 15) in this event.

Aside from Germany, Canada will see its main competition in the 3,000 metres, 5,000 metres and Team Pursuit come from a short list of countries that include the Netherlands and Japan.
In the 3,000 and 5,000 metres, Clara Hughes, Kristina Groves and Cindy Klassen will see their greatest challenge come in the form of Germany’s dynamic duo of Claudia Pechstein and Anni Friesinger. The reigning Olympic champion in both disciplines, Pechstein finished as a runner-up to Friesinger in the 3,000 and 5,000 metres at the 2005 World All Round Championship and in the 5,000 metres at the 2005 World Single Distances Championship.

In 2004-05, Canada achieved outstanding success in the season’s two World Championships.

At the World Single Distances Championship in Germany, Klassen edged Pechstein for the gold medal in the 3,000 metres with Groves taking the bronze and Hughes finishing two spots back in fifth.

In the 5,000 metres race at the same competition, Hughes captured the bronze medal with Groves just missing out on a podium finish, coming in fourth. Hughes also finished in third place during the 5,000-metre event at the 2005 World All Around Championship.

With respect to Team Pursuit, the event will be making its Olympic debut in 2006 and Canada appears poised for success in the discipline as the Canadian women are the current world record holders and are ranked second only to Germany heading into the 2005-06 season.

Despite Germany’s consistent results in long track speed skating, Canada has experienced an impressive streak of success in the women’s 3,000 metres, 5,000 metres and Team Pursuit over the past several years. Led by Hughes, Groves and Klassen, Canada has won a combined total of 12 medals at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and the 2003-05 World All Around and World Single Distances Championships.










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